Teacher Dispositions: What They Are and Why We Care

"...and 'critical dispositions' indicates that habits of professional action and moral commitments that underlie the performances play a key role in how teachers do, in fact, act in practice."

(InTASC Model Core Teaching Standards, p. 6)

Becoming a teacher is more than learning content and teaching strategies. Becoming a teacher also means developing certain behaviors and attitudes that guide actions and beliefs. This combination of content knowledge, pedagogical skills and professional dispositions enable teachers to be effective, successful educators. 

The dispositions outlined below have been identified by MSME as the understandings and skills that our students should develop and consistently portray throughout their education. While students are not expected to meet all the dispositional expectations upon entry into the program, they are expected to strengthen and mature in all areas, consistently exhibiting the required dispositions by the time they student teach.

Learn more about the MSME Department's Dispositional Process.

Ethical Action and Communication
  • Prioritizes the well-being of students
  • Speaks honestly and acts with integrity
  • Knows when information is confidential and respects student privacy.
  • Shares information with appropriate parties when necessary to protect student well-being and to comply with regulations.
  • Meets the JMU Student Standards of Conduct
Respect for Diversity of Others
  • Responds to diversity by building empathy, respect, understanding and connection.
  • Expresses comfort with people who are both similar to and different from them and engage respectfully with all people.
  • Models respect for all in speech and behavior
  • Speaks and acts equitably and without bias
Independent Agency
  • Takes initiative when appropriate
  • Needs minimal supervision or direction
  • Plans for contingencies
  • Can be trusted to carry out commitments
  • Initiates collegial review of professional work when appropriate
  • Takes responsibility for decisions, actions and outcomes
  • Values self-care
  • Works to builds productive relationships with students, teachers, and supervisors
  • Seeks collaboration and consensus
  • Shares responsibilities equitably
  • Clearly communicates boundaries when internalized set of values may be compromised
Time Management
  • Arrives on time
  • Sets appropriate priorities
  • Meets deadlines
  • Proactively addresses schedule issues and adjusts.
Professional Communication
  • Replies to colleagues and supervisors in a timely manner
  • Uses social media in appropriate ways
  • Confers in person as needed to gain necessary information
  • Uses new and varied data to analyze, evaluate, and enhance performance
  • Welcomes feedback
  • Acknowledges strengths and areas for growth
  • Considers ways that past situations inform future practice
Professional Effectiveness
  • Dresses, grooms, and speaks as occasions require
  • Adapts positively to changing circumstance
  • Compromises for positive outcomes
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Have questions? Email Middle and Secondary Education to learn more about what our programs can offer you.

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Important Dates


  • 24 - First day of classes


  • 2 - Semester/1st Block Add/Drop Deadline
  • 12 - Semester/1st Block Add with Departmental Permission deadline
  • 13 - Withdraw from JMU deadline
  • 22 - 1st Block Withdraw/Course Adjustment deadline
  • 30-Oct 1 - Family Weekend


  • 1 - Applications available in MyMadison for May 2022 or August 2022 undergraduate graduation
  • 11 - 1st Block courses end
  • 17 - 2nd Block courses begin
  • 15 - Deadline to apply to graduate Grad School
  • 12-14 - Fall Break (no classes, University Offices open)
  • 12-23 - Homecoming Weekend
  • 24 - 2nd Block Add/Drop deadline
  • 26 - Semester Withdraw/Course Adjustment deadline


  • 1 - 2nd Block Add with Departmental Permission deadline
  • 7 - Spring 2023 Enrollment Week (see your MyMadison for your enrollment appointment)
  • 15 - 2nd Block Withdraw/Course Adjustment deadline
  • 21-25 - Thanksgiving Break


  • 11 - Last day of classes
  • 10-16 - Final Exam Week
  • 16 - 'Incomplete" coursework for Spring 2022 and Summer 2022 due; Deadline for completion of coursework for December 2022 graduates; Graduate Commencement Ceremony
  • 17 - Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony

See the JMU Academic Calendar for more deadlines.

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